There are those who enjoy playing video games, and there are those who like to watch other people play.

Thanks to the continuous advancements in technology, the latter group has been growing, video games being the entertainment industry sub-sector exreriencing a tremendous growth rate in the past few years. People are now willing to subscribe to services like Twitch, simply to be able to observe others play games such as Overwatch, Fortnight, League of Legends and FIFA that require great skill from players to stand out. And that’s where the term “competitive gaming” comes in to play.

This sudden rise in interest has not gone unnoticed, as a lot of companies have begun to invest within this field, going so far as to host events, sponsor players or teams and offer hundreds of thousands of dollars either in cash orprizes, and sometimes even scholarships, to the winners.

A good example of this is Greek Australian Peter Saisanas who saw his life change from one moment to the next. Peter was on the world leader boards of the popular soccer game FIFA when he began to be noticed.

“In 2015 there was a competition for a sports brand and I represented South Melbourne,” he tells Neos Kosmos.

“I represented the club, finished in the top eight and won $5,000.”

In signing with South Melbourne, Saisanas became the first professional FIFA Esports player in Australia to accomplish such a feat. He has since participated in the FIFA Interactive World Cup qualifiers in Doha and the World Finals in Sydney where he finished in the top eight of the competition, winning $8,000.

Last year, Peter was approached by the Football Federation of Australia in order to take part in the inaugural E-League season.

“The E-League came along and they didn’t accept any foreign players from any other organisation. So South Melbourne released me and Perth Glory contacted me. They actually found me through a common connection, the ex-South Melbourne CEO, Peter Filopoulos.”

After having experienced this, and going on to become a representative of well-respected football clubs, what is Saisanas’ opinion regarding Esports? Could it become an actual career path for people to follow?

“It’s definitely a thing and it’s not meant to be taken as a joke anymore, because I guess a lot of the older generation see it as people locked in their rooms playing video games,” he says.

“But when you read into it and you find out more, you see that the developers are putting so much money into games and the player base is hundreds of millions of people and it doesn’t discriminate. The player can be of any gender, of any race, of any size, of any height and you can still dominate the game that you’re playing. It makes sense that it’s rising because it’s for everyone and I think it will probably become, not as big as football, but the second highest sport based on viewership within the next couple of years.”

Saisanas will be at the Melbourne Esports Open that takes place this weekend at Olympic Park along with most other top players in the city, willing to take on competitors who think they’ve got what it takes to test their mettle against one of the world’s top rated FIFA players.